Monday, November 19, 2012

Rob's Spoiler-Free Dark Souls Tutorial

A friend of mine recently started playing Dark Souls, which has a beautiful design but a grudging reluctance to explain any of it to the player, and an interface with some bizarre features. So here's my guide to what the manual should have told you. I'll try to explain it as quickly as possible.

Game Concepts

  1. This game is designed to provide a sense of accomplishment through effort, not a power fantasy.
  2. You cannot pause the game, but you can walk around while using the menu. Press Start to close it.
  3. Always read the item descriptions. They replace the standard audio logs as both in-game hints and story content. For instance, reading a key will usually tell you which door it unlocks.
  4. Don't stress out over your "class", as any class can do anything if you spend enough levels on it. All stats are useful up to at least 40 points, except for "Resistance" which is worthless.
  5. Resist the temptation to grind for souls. Exploring new areas is far more profitable.
  6. "Humanity" is an overloaded term in Dark Souls, since it's a major theme of the game. Using the Humanity consumable item or winning a multiplayer session will give you 1 humanity point (the top left number in the UI), which you can keep around for a stat boost or spend at a bonfire to become human ("Reverse Hollowing") and kindle bonfires.
  7. Most multiplayer features are restricted to human players, except for joining a co-op game. As you progress, you will discover the nine "Covenants," factions which have both online and offline effects.
  8. Stealth doesn't have any on-screen indicators, but enemies will be less likely to notice you if you walk slowly, wear light armor, don't hit walls, etc.

Interacting with NPCs (Non-Player Characters)

  1. Your decisions are permanent. NPCs can be attacked and killed, but will never be friendly again. If you leave without helping someone, they might die while you are away.
  2. NPCs will usually have additional dialogue each time you visit, but shops never update their inventory.
  3. If you are human, most areas have an NPC who will either invade you or offer to help.
  4. Some very important people are hiding from the world. You'll need to prove your worth before they reveal themselves. If you side with their enemies, you may not even be aware they exist.

Weapons, Armor and Equipment

  1. In the Equipment menu, you can assign two weapons to each hand and wear up to 4 pieces of armor. The total weight of those 8 items is your "Equip Weight", which you can see on the Status menu. Your running and rolling ability changes dramatically at 25%, 50% and 100% of maximum Equip Weight.
  2. Your character is right-handed, so put your shield or off-hand weapon in the left hand and your main weapon in the right hand. Magic and bows work equally well in either hand.
  3.  Wielding your weapon two-handed raises your Strength by 50%, which also counts towards stat requirements. For instance, a Halberd can be used 2-handed at 11 strength instead of the normal 16.
  4. Try out a lot of different weapons in the beginning of the game; virtually everything has a unique move set, and upgrades are expensive early on so find something you like before investing in a +5 weapon.
  5. Heavy armor has a "Poise" stat which allows you to take damage without being staggered. Heavy weapons and 2-handed attacks deal more damage to poise.
  6. Shields have a "Stability" stat which allow you to block without losing stamina, and "Damage Reduction" stats which allow you to block without taking damage. These are percentage-based, so keep your eye out for a shield with 100% physical reduction and good stability.
  7. Most weapons scale with your character's stats. Different upgrade paths can emphasize different stats.


  1. To jump, hold B to run, then release B and tap B again quickly.
  2. To slide down a ladder quickly, press B.
  3. All weapons have unique attacks after rolling (direction + B) and after backstepping (tap B).
  4. To use a bow:
    1. Equip a bow and arrows.
    2. Press the attack button to nock an arrow
    3. Lock on (R3) and press RB to fire arrows. The closer you are, the better the damage.
    4. Press LB to go into first-person sniper mode, then RB to fire or RT to swap arrows.
    5. Crossbows can't snipe and use bolts instead of arrows, but their upgrades are extra effective.
  5. To use magic:
    1. At a bonfire, "Attune Magic" and equip spells. To equip more spells, upgrade your "Attunement" stat.
    2. Equip a catalyst/talisman/flame. Use the D-pad to toggle which spell you're using.
    3. Press the attack button to cast the spell. To fire at a specific enemy, lock on (R3).

1 comment:

  1. I learned something and I've got 40 hours into this game...